Dec 5, 2018Fall Creek announces new shared leadership
Fall Creek Farm & Nursery, Inc., has announced succession of its top leadership. After forty years, company co-founder and blueberry industry innovator Dave Brazelton will step aside as chief executive officer (CEO) to assume a new role as executive chairman of the privately-held global company’s board of directors. Effective Jan. 1, 2019, Amelie Brazelton Aust and Cort Brazelton will assume the roles of co-CEOs. In addition, Oscar Verges, who joined Fall Creek as chief operating officer (COO) in 2016, recently was promoted to president and COO of the blueberry breeding and nursery company. The three executives will lead the company’s strategy and growth, and the team of functional and regional directors will continue to report to Verges.
This unique leadership model was recommended by Fall Creek’s board of directors after assessing the company’s growth plan, internal talents and team-based corporate culture.
Amelie Brazelton Aust joined Fall Creek in 2008 to manage the company’s intellectual property and licensing after receiving a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree from the Munich Intellectual Property Law Center at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, where she was a Fulbright scholar. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature with a minor in biology from the University of Oregon. Over the past decade at Fall Creek, she broadened her focus to include product development and global commercialization as Fall Creek’s own breeding program began to release varieties, including the current commercial blueberry varieties, as well as the branded home gardener program BrazelBerries which was eventually sold to Ball Horticulture. More recently, Amelie has served on the company’s board of directors, and as the interim director of product development and commercialization, responsible for re-shaping the company’s licensing strategies to better position its genetics.
Cort Brazelton is currently the director of business development and interim director of sales for Fall Creek’s European business. Before joining Fall Creek in 2008, he was the blueberry business manager for Driscoll’s, the global marketer of fresh berries, and principal of Brazelton Ag Consulting. He produces and authors the biennial World Blueberry Production Report for the United States Highbush Blueberry Council, the industry’s primary reference for blueberry production statistics and trends. He is an active member of the USHBC USDA Commission and one of the founders of the International Blueberry Organization where he currently serves as an advisor to the board. He studied economics and policy at Monterrey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, German and music from Oregon State University.
Oscar Verges brings extensive executive international business and produce industry experience to Fall Creek. Successful in both entrepreneurial and corporate environments, he was founder and managing director of two separate cell phone service providers in Spain before joining Fall Creek. Previously, Verges worked with fresh produce icon Chiquita Brands International, Inc., for 12 years in several countries and continents. In 2007, he helped develop some of the earliest blueberry plantations in Morocco with fruit producer and marketer Royal Natural of Barcelona, Spain. Verges holds a Master’s degree from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, and earned a dual Bachelor’s degree in international relations and management from the University of Tampa in Florida.
All three members of the leadership team are based at the company’s headquarters in Lowell, Ore. They frequently travel to other Fall Creek locations and industry events.
Top photo: From the left are Oscar Verges, Amelie Brazelton Aust and Cort Brazelton. Photos: Fall Creek